Cleaning an (iTunes) Library

For the first time ever, I’m finding that I need to organize my iTunes library. For the longest time merely having a couple of play lists varying by activity, genre, mood and sheer awesomeness was sufficient. Then I began needing to set some songs, particularly musicals, to not play while shuffling. Fine. Basic stuff.

But I’m about to run up against the 16 GB limit on my iPod touch. I never imagined this happening. My imagination was limited because I thought songs were from three to five minutes each and that an iTouch could hold around 3500 of them. I’m not a big movie watcher- the videos on my iPod are primarily lectures from schools like Yale and MIT that make online courses available to the public. These get deleted as I watch them and are thus not a long term factor.

Of course, then I downloaded a collection of Karajan conducted Symphonies. That pushed the average ‘song’ length on my iPod to over ten minutes, or thereabouts. Then there are other classical pieces that are anywhere from half an hour to over an hour long. The other thing about classical music is that there is so much of it. There are currently 1800 odd ‘songs’ in my iTunes library, but my iPod can’t take much more. Certainly not another collection of over 30 CD’s.

So here’s the question: how do I systematically go about removing songs from my iPod and/or iTunes library? With so much music it is difficult to recall “You know, I never liked that Fallout Boy/Panic at the Disco song with the long irrelevant name all that much” or “Beethoven’s Second simply lacks the energy of the Fifth and the Ninth, I don’t think it makes the cut.”

To complicate things, new music is being added all the time. My most recent addition is the soundtrack for Alice in Wonderland, which I’ve already listened to several times over despite not having seen the movie yet. It has about five reprises on the main theme. Do I cut them all out of hand? Do I spend the time to carefully decide which one is the best? There’s always the “don’t cut up the album” argument. I highly recommend the album, by the way, but if you only get one song, definitely the first track, “Alice’s Theme.”

So, given that I’m sure there are others of you who have had this problem, I ask: how do you recommend I tackle this task?

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